Yesterday was Martin Luther King Day. My Facebook newsfeed was full of inspirational MLK quotes. I particularly enjoy this one: “Our scientific power has outrun our spiritual power. We have guided missiles and misguided men.”
For good measure, along with the usual pictures of cats, was an extra helping of Einstein wisdom. (“We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.")
The day before, President Obama began his second term. Forgive me for inserting my political preferences here, but I view Obama’s reelection as the triumph of our higher nature over our lower ones.
Meanwhile, “Lincoln” is enjoying a very successful run in the theaters. I’ve written on Lincoln several times here at HealthCentral (see most recently Mood Disorders and the Presidency). The conclusion to his Second Inaugural Address (“With malice toward none, with charity for all ...”) never fails to take my breath away (literally, my breathing goes funny).
Meanwhile, over in the world of sports, two NFL playoff games ended with sensational comebacks. One of the winning teams was a nine-point underdog, the other overcame a 17-point deficit. This is the stuff that lifts our spirits, no matter who we happened to be rooting for.
This may sound like the very opposite, but bear with me: A week earlier, Lance Armstrong appeared on Oprah, giving us a chance to see with our own eyes what a disgusting human being he truly is. The inspiration to draw from this was the universality of our disgust. Judging others is risky business, but let’s credit our reaction as another triumph of our higher nature over our lower ones.
A quick confession: I don’t own a TV, so I didn’t see any MLK tributes, nor did I watch the inauguration or view the NFL playoffs or turn on Oprah. Moreover, I have yet to see “Lincoln.” What I have been doing is viewing TED Talks on my desktop. TED (Technology, Entertainment, and Design) is a global series of conferences dedicated to “ideas worth spreading.”) Call me crazy, I get inspired by very smart and very dedicated men and women sharing their vision for a better world.
Particularly moving for me was Bunker Roy, who established “Barefoot College” in an impoverished village in a drought-stricken region of India. Barefoot College is based on the principle of tapping into the local wisdom of the community to solve problems and improve lives, even if the people happen to be illiterate and uneducated. One current project involves turning village grandmothers into solar engineers, who then oversee the implementation of cheap electricity in their respective communities.
I urge you to check out the video, and sample some of the other TED Talks.
On a personal level, tomorrow I will be attending a board meeting of our local NAMI. There will be a changing of the guard at the board president level. Our outgoing president has served in this capacity for three years and has done an outstanding job. When she joined the board about four years ago she made it very clear that she only had limited time to devote to her board duties. Famous last words.